Coconut Breakfast Panna Cotta with Granola

photo 4Do you need a holiday? Do your bones sag under the urge to escape and smell frangipanis by the sea? If you do and you can’t shirk  the apron strings of your life, may I present to you this panna cotta?

Dessert-for-breakfast is a concept I heartily endorse (see here)  as much as abandoning your responsibilities and fleeing with your oldest friends to Noosa for four days.  This breakfast panna cotta is light and tropical, dairy free (if that’s what you need) and delightful. It’s easy to prepare ahead of time (Christmas breakfast anyone?) and many health-advisers would even sing the digestive merits of increasing the presence of gelatine in your diet.  For some textural contrast you could go with a tropical fruit salad for a co star, but a crackle of granola helps add a little more substance. If this is what you need in your life, right now, skip straight to the bottom for the recipe. If you have time for some context, read on.

It’s time for a confession. For someone who has made a good portion of her living extolling the virtues of gadding about the world (often in print form), in the past two years, there hasn’t been much of it. Life got in the way. From here, I say, enough is enough and I raise a battle cry. If you believe your family can’t survive without you for a few days- that’s a problem. 

I had a problem.

That was until I was lovingly hectored by my oldest and closest girlfriends into joining them on their annual escape north to Noosa. I dithered. Stitching together a constellation of carers for the bundle of cheek and chub which is my toddler was not the most straightforward task. Three different people over four days stepped in and passed my son between them like a pair of travelling pants. And then early last Thursday I stepped into the blue.

photo 1Less than two hours flying time north from Sydney is Noosa. It’s a coastal village custom-designed for mild hedonism. I’ve never seen so many groups of women aged between 32 and 56 ambling shoulder to shoulder. If your book club needs a retreat- this is where you’ll go. (Though it is also perfect for a holiday with small children or lovers). There’s the pristine water with caster-sugar fine sand and gamboling waves. There are bush walks through the national park, boutiques to shop and a banquet of restaurants to wallow in.

photo 3 Eight of us stayed in a three bedroom penthouse apartment at The Emerald on the main street; Hastings Parade. It was modern and clean, spacious and even had a spa.  There was wine and cheese, long lunches and cocktails, early morning beach walks and lazy hours spent in a grassy knoll with drinks and books.

photo 5There were hours dedicated to work shopping business problems- everything from how to launch a new legal firm, to how to best market an ebook dedicated to tracking each week of your pregnancy with a delicious whole food recipe (that’s now available on Amazon).

Over twenty four hours I slipped back into an older imprint of myself. I wasn’t just catching up with old friends. I was catching up with an older version of me- and it was a person I had missed dearly. I was more relaxed. More opinionated. And a lot more fun. 

My favourite moments involved lazy breakfasts at Berados, overlooking the beach while we still had salt water dripping from our hair and sand between our little toes.

I came home to a house in ruins (safe to say I will not be a serial renovator) and a little boy who was just as delighted to have spent quality time with other members of his extended family as he was to see me.

This panna cotta now serves as an edible post card to lazy mornings and sun streaked days. To novelty gold tattoos (I’m crossing fingers that my temporary tramp-stamp fades soon), nautical stripes and flowers in our hair. It’s an express lane to casual civility coupled with borderline-appropriate adult conversation. It’s a mental portal to a place where there are no tupperwares of crackers in my handbag, toy cars in my car, deadlines to meet or small socks to sort. It’s a holiday on your plate- and it’s here- anytime you need it.

Coconut Breakfast Panna Cotta with Granola and Fruit

photo 4

Serves 4

Four plastic cups, (swipe the insides with a little bit of vegetable oil on a paper towel). 1 saucepan.


 For the panna cotta

3  gold strength gelatine leaves
500 ml coconut milk
1 tsp liquid coconut oil, or neutral tasting oil
1 tbsp honey/maple syrup/ rice malt syrup/sweetener of your choice
Optional- 1 vanilla bean, scraped.


¾ cup/ 80 g oats or rolled quinoa (if gluten free)
¼ cup / 45 g ground flax
1/3 cup/ 30 g desiccated coconut
1/2 a cup/60 g almond slivers
1/3 cup /30 g macadamia nuts or brazil nuts, roughly chopped
2 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
1 tsp salt flakes
60 ml rice malt syrup/ maple syrup
1 egg white, beaten until foamy
1 handful dried apricots or pears, diced (or snipped with kitchen scissors)

To serve

Fresh berries, sliced grapes, pear and strawberries

Here’s how we roll

Panna Cottas
(nb, make the evening before serving)

1. Soak the gelatine leaves in a little cold water until they’re slippery and slimy.
2. Bring the coconut milk and sweetener to a simmer in a pan and stir until the sweetener has dissolved. Scrape in the seeds of the vanilla bean.
3. Give the gelatine leaves a good squeeze, then add to the warm coconut milk. Stir until the gelatine has dissolved.

4. Swipe the inside of the plastic cups with a little of the oil.  Pour the mixture evenly into the the cups. Let them cool and then place them in the fridge for 4-6 hours to set properly.


1) Preheat oven to 140C /285 F and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Mix all dry ingredients in a big bowl.

2) Heat the oil and syrup together in a small pan until bubbling and pour them over the dry.

3) Mix together until the dry ingredients are coated, then fold through the beaten egg white. Pour onto the baking paper and bake for 45 minutes, then use a spoon to turn the granola over. Return to the oven and bake for another 25 minutes, until the nuts are crunchy. Allow to cool for 15 minutes then break up the clumps .

4) Combine the granola clumps with the dried fruit. Either put the granola in an airtight container to keep, or assemble the panna cottas.

To plate up
1.Upend the plastic cups, one to each plate. Puncture the top of the cups with the tip of a knife. This will allow air in and the suction seal to break, releasing the panna cottas.
2. Spoon two to three tablespoons of the granola around the base. The extra will keep happily in a tupperware in the fridge for a week or more.
3.Add the fruit to the plate. Eat.


{ 1 Comment }
  1. I think that is what every mother of a toddler needs… I didn’t feel ready with first and though I was more than ready by the time I had a second one, there was no immediate family to help out. I now dream of getting away with some good friends, sounds like a dream. I will console myself with dinner out tomorrow with some old friends and one visiting from across the ocean and below the equator… and perhaps this panna cotta for Saturday breakfast?

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